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The 30 Best Marvel Graphic Novels of All Time

wolverine mobile
Marvel Comics

Spider-Man. The X-Men. Captain America. Iron Man. The Hulk. Captain Marvel. Those iconic heroes and so much more belong to the House of Marvel.

Arguably the world’s top comic book imprint and entertainment powerhouse, Marvel has gifted the world with amazing storylines, beloved characters, and a long line of top-notch blockbusters that have captured the attention of millions. Thanks to the business/creative moves made by innovators such as Martin Goodman, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and several others, Marvel has morphed into a huge facet of American culture and can be throughout every corner of media. On the comic book side of the spectrum, Marvel has produced a wide swath of riveting tales that have been compiled into must-read graphic novels.

We’re here to provide you with the very best stories Marvel has to offer in graphic novel form. The 30 stories we’ve put here before you here perfectly capture the pomp and circumstance comic book fans have become accustomed to when it comes to Marvel.

EXCELSIOR!

1. Secret Wars

Secret Wars 1984
Marvel Comics

Secret Wars is one of the most monumental events in not just Marvel Comics history, but comics as a whole. The presence of The Beyonder leads to an epic struggle between the entirety of the Marvel universe and results in a pretty wild plot that sees Doctor Doom end up at the center of that struggle. Secret Wars may not have gotten the most positive reception upon release but over time, it’s garnered a bit of love due to its long-lasting effect on some of Marvel’s greatest characters. Plus the action-packed panels make it an exciting read.

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2. Infinity Gauntlet

infinity gauntlet
Marvel Comics

The all-powerful Thanos gets quoted by anyone and everyone these days thanks to his incredible villain role in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The story arc that clearly inspired those films and brought the “Mad Titan” to the forefront is this one. Infinity Gauntlet is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to get wrapped up in the Marvel Universe - it follows the Avengers, the New Warriors, the X-Men, Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, and more as they clash with Thanos & his universe-altering gems.

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3. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction & David Aja

hawkeye
Marvel Comics

Matt Fraction and David Aja’s combined efforts led to a career resurgence for Marvel’s expert bow and arrow wielder, Hawkeye. This Eisner Award-nominated run follows the hero as he comes to grips with a tumultuous life that shows more of his human side over his heroic exploits. When he eventually does get into some superhero hijinks, this series gets even more engrossing as Hawkeye clashes with mobsters and so much more alongside his understudy Kate Hudson & his loyal pup.

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4. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle

iron man demon
Marvel Comics

The man behind the mask is Tony Stark. And his biggest issue comes in the form of rampant alcoholism. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle follows Mr. Stark as he’s forced to confront his innermost problem while simultaneously contending with Justin Hammer & his formidable army of baddies. The clever writing included in Demon in a Bottle does an amazing job of handling the difficulty of alcoholism and presents Tony in a more relatable light for readers who’ve been forced to deal with it themselves.

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5. New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout

new avengers
Marvel Comics

New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout takes place after the dissolution of the original Avengers team lineup. With such an important event taking place within the Marvel universe, a concealed evil rises under the surface to take advantage of it all. A series of harmful events leads to two of the original Avengers members reuniting and aligning themselves with a strong class of fellow superheroes. This astounding tale follows the initial formation of the New Avengers during their rebooted run as a superhero collective.

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6. Alias: Ultimate Collection, Book 1

alias
Marvel Comics

If you got sucked into the Jessica Jones show that used to be on Netflix, then it’s definitely worth checking out the series she originated from. Alias: Ultimate Collection, Book 1 showcases a side of Marvel Comics that delivers more mature storytelling, darker humor, and intriguing detective work from the former costumed hero turned private eye. Jessica Jones gets caught up in conspiracy theories, disappearances, and even a date with a beloved superhero. And you’ll end up loving every bit of each and every plot thread.

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7. Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 1: Gifted

x men gifted
Marvel Comics

Marvel’s mutant contingent has been rebooted plenty of times already. One of the best fresh takes on the fan-favorite team comes from creators Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. Astonishing X-Men. Vol. 1: Gifted brings Cyclops and Emma Frost into the picture as they build a new X-Men troupe. A major event that centers around a supposed “mutant cure” goes public and a new foe named Ord comes into the picture, however. With those two obstacles put in place, this new X-Men team has their work cut out for them from the start in the most difficult ways possible.

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8. Captain America: Winter Soldier

captain america winter soldier
Marvel Comics

If you’re reading this right now, then you’re probably one of the many MCU fans who hold the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film in very high regard. The original storyline lifted right from this graphic novel’s pages came to life wonderfully on the big screen, which is why you should pay tribute to those same pages with a thorough read. One of the best Captain America stories of all time features the return of Bucky Barnes, the demise of the Red Skull, and a dangerous group of Red Skull followers who are out to wreak havoc in his wake.

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9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

days of future past
Marvel Comics

When the X-Men of the 1980s are made aware of their race’s ultimate demise in the future, they’re forced to spring into action to prevent that future from coming to fruition. X-Men: Days of Future Past centers around Kitty Pride as she converges with her future self to help the X-Men prevent a specific event from transpiring in order to save mutantkind from a doomed future. Alongside that monumental story, this graphic novel includes the debut of Alpha Flight and marks the return of the Wendigo. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the quintessential X-Men story from the Silver Age of Comic Books.

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10. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

x men god loves
Marvel Comics

Chris Claremont is regarded as one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. And his biggest claim to fame is his run on the X-Men from 1975 right up until 1991. When he went into graphic novel mode alongside comic book artists Brent Anderson, greatness ensued with the creation of X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. This storyline forces Professor X’s mutants to align themselves with their mortal enemy Magnet in order to confront an overwhelming threat. The religious zealot at the heart of this grand tale raises the stakes for the X-Men and all of mutantkind.

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11. Daredevil: Born Again

born again
Marvel Comics

Frank Miller’s legendary status is due in part to his run on the Daredevil comics during the 1980s. The biggest and best story arc from that run has always been considered to be “Born Again,” which follows the ground-level hero as he encounters one of his biggest struggles. With his identity known by the Kingpin menace and his life in more danger than ever before, Daredevil must overcome his mental anguish and fight for survival.

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12. Civil War

civil war
Marvel Comics

When Marvel’s most influential heroes work alongside each other, you can’t help but root for them in their fight for justice. It becomes a tough endeavor once those heroes enter into a major conflict that threatens to disrupt their unity, however. The “Civil War” storyline produces such a dispute between those saviors. Once the U.S. government enacts the Superhero Registration Act, lines are drawn between those who support it and those who don’t. What ensues is the most action-packed...well, disagreement in the Marvel Universe.

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13. House of X/Powers of X

house of x
Marvel Comics

2020 marked the relaunch of the X-Men as a pillar of the Marvel Universe before the start of the “Dawn of X” story arc. When Professor X makes the world aware of the mutant nation of Krakoa, a temporary partnership between mutant and humankind is put into action. But at some point, that perfect union comes apart at the seams and leads to a brand new mission statement for all of Homo superior. The X-Men mythos is impacted in the most shocking manner possible across their past, present, and future.

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14. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

deadpool
Marvel Comics

Deadpool’s hilarious fourth-wall-breaking antics never disappoint. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe heads off in a much darker direction by pitting an even more unhinged Wade Wilson against Marvel’s wealth of beloved heroes. The violence and gore from this one are off the charts, so prepare yourself for a Deadpool graphic novel that delves into his maniacal crusade against the superhero community.

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15. Marvel Zombies

marvel zombies
Marvel Comics

The multiverse always gives way to crazy interpretations of everyone’s favorite heroes and presents their origins & clashes with their Rogues’ Gallery in unique ways. Marvel Zombies takes readers to a wild sector of the Marvel multiverse that’s filled with zombified versions of the greatest superheroes of all time. The Ultimate Universe’s version of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards aka “Mister Fantastic” ends up in their crosshairs, which leads to some of the craziest storytelling in the Marvel Comics mythology.

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16. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume One: Who Is Miles Morales?

miles morales
Marvel Comics

Marvel’s “Ultimate” line of comics offers a fresh spin on the long-standing legacy of its most iconic characters. Readers ended up falling in love with that spinoff universe’s version of Spider-Man, which is fulfilled by the teenage hero named Miles Morales. His origin story is contained within this graphic novel’s beautifully animated pages - you’ll end up falling in love with him too as he comes to grips with taking on the mantle of Peter Parker.

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17. Runaways Vol. 1: Pride & Joy

runaways 1
Marvel Comics

If the Hulu TV series based on this collection of young heroes caught your attention, then you need to spend some time with the comic book series it's based on. The first volume of The Runaways introduces readers to the motley crew of Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly, and Nico. Their lives are turned upside down once they learn that their parents are all super-powered baddies, which forces them to run away from home and seek out a life that differs from the one their evil parents abide by.

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18. Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 1: The Last Iron Fist Story

iron fist
Marvel Comics

Shang-Chi may have taken the spotlight as Marvel’s martial arts maestro, but that title once belonged to Danny Rand aka “Iron Fist.” This graphic novel provides answers to the biggest questions surrounding Iron Fist’s origin and everything that goes into the legacy of his superpowers. Prepare yourself for eye-popping flashback sequences that delve into the past wielders of the Iron Fist moniker.

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19. Marvel 1602

marvel 1602
Marvel Comics

When Marvel transported its superheroes to the Elizabethan Era, a breath of fresh air arrived in the form of Marvel 1602. This focused timepiece tale sees our favorite Marvel heroes reside in England and clash with a powerful stable known as The Witchbreed. Spider-Man, the X-Men, Nick Fury, and a slew of even more Marvel saviors appear as alternate versions of their familiar selves as they navigate the dark reign of the year 1602.

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20. World War Hulk

world war hulk
Marvel Comics

The “World War Hulk” storyline sticks out as one of those Hulk arcs that makes you feel for the big guy. After being exiled from Earth by the very same heroes he once fought side by side with, The Hulk finds himself wandering through space before taking refuge on the planet of Sakaar. Hulk soon finds himself in a struggle that places him on the side of the slaves who seek an uprising against their rulers. Hulk’s crusade alongside them eventually leads to him becoming their leader, which ultimately sets them all up for a violent return to Hulk’s home planet. For revenge, of course!

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21. Silver Surfer: Parable

silver surfer parable
Marvel Comics

Stan Lee and Jean Giraud’s masterful work together resulted in one of the best galactic tales ever told in comic book form. Silver Surfer: Parable features the space-faring champion as he fights to save Earth from two evil forces - Enslavers & Mrrungo-Mu and the all-powerful planet consumer known as Galactus. The climactic battles Silver Surfer is a part of are awe-inspiring, while the story’s themes of false prophets and human nature will keep you intrigued from start to finish.

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22. Fantastic Four: 1234

ff 1234
Marvel Comics

The creative duo of Grant Morrison and Jae Lee puts forth the well-known origins of Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four, with a much darker tone. Fantastic Four: 1234 showcases each member of the superhero squad with their own singular stories, which all delve into some of the dysfunction at the heart of their innermost struggles and relationships. The striking art style and mature storytelling are much different than the Fantastic Four stories that came before this one.

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23. The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank

punisher welcome back
Marvel Comics

Frank Castle’s life is redefined by the team of Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Tim Bradstreet in The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank. Frank’s return to prominence as a vicious vehicle for retribution against the worst criminals known to man has earned him the ire of two cops and the mob. Along with those opposers at his heels, Frank must contend with three individuals that try to co-opt his gameplan and have him join their group of vigilantes.

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24. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

daredevil bendis
Marvel Comics

One of the most beloved runs for Daredevil came during the late 90s. And that’s all thanks to Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. This defining series of stories follows the ground-level hero as his real identity becomes known to the world. And of course, this results in his most infamous foes doing everything in their power to make his life even more of a living hell. This comic book run also features some amazing guest appearances that make this a star-studded storyline worth checking out.

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25. The Ultimates

the ultimates
Marvel Comics

The Ultimates are presented as a different interpretation of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” The art style presented for this series grabbed everyone’s attention during its initial run and it’ll do the same for anyone that decides to check it out in this collection. You’ll definitely enjoy watching Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, and more as they combat familiar threats and confront a world overrun by varied supervillains.

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26. Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt

kravens last hunt
Marvel Comics

One of Spider-Man’s most notorious (and fan favorite) villains is Kraven the Hunter. In “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” the fearless warrior embarks upon a final feat in order to defeat his greatest adversary. After succeeding at his lofty goal, Kraven takes over Spidey’s role and ends up serving the city as a much more benevolent hero. Once Spidey escapes from Kraven’s grasp, he sets out to take back his role as the city’s savior.

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27. Captain America: Truth

captain america truth
Marvel Comics

One of the most intriguing parts of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Disney+ series is the way in which it explained the earliest example of super soldiers and the horrible acts committed by the U.S. government towards one of its patriots. Captain America: Truth delves into the tragic life of Isaiah Bradley, a soldier who donned the Captain America costume before Steve Rogers but was stricken by a horrible treatment by his superiors that speaks to real-world issues.

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28. Marvels

marvels
Marvel Comics

Imagine a world in which superheroes are first introduced to the general public and, as a photojournalist, you set off to document their early days. Marvels, which comes from the combined efforts of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, presents that intriguing storyline in the most gorgeous fashion possible through some of the best-looking panels we’ve ever seen. This special edition of Marvels features extra content that focuses on the X-Men and even the aforementioned photojournalist that gets caught up in all the action.

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29. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

nextwave
Marvel Comics

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. drops a lot of humor into Marvel’s usual array of action-packed epics. The story follows a group of anti-terrorism specialists known as the Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. But once Nextwave learns that their overseers are terrorists themselves, they become a bit peeved and set out to hand out some much-needed revenge. Get ready to laugh a bunch and most definitely get ready to remain excited throughout every explosive panel of this graphic novel.

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30. Wolverine by Claremont & Miller

wolverine mobile
Marvel Comics

Chris Claremont and Frank Miller came together during the early 1980s to send Logan on an international journey that produced one of his finest acts to date. This storyline sees the highly celebrated X-Men member head off to Japan to rescue his beloved Mariko Yashida from an arranged marriage. But after facing firsthand embarrassment from Mariko’s father, Wolverine basks in his sorrows. Of course, you’ll get to follow his resurgence as a badass hero as he fights alongside a newfound assassin and clashes with the individuals trying to keep him from his true love.

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